Monday, September 9, 2019

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, September 14, 2019 - Embracing Pandemonium

Let it go. You’re holding on too tightly. Life is a riddle for which the answer is so obvious it seems like bad advice.

The hardest principle of all spiritual practice is non-resistance. It’s the one which seems the most counterintuitive. We maintain a belief that if we stop resisting, all the bad stuff will happen. If we stop holding back these waters, they will destroy us. Try turning your umbrella the right side up. You’re trapping too much water with it the other way around.

The irony is, the only successfully provable societal model we’ve ever had is nonresistance. That’s the only model for which we have any evidence in favor of the argument. When we let go, things work out better. Always.

Of course there are examples toward which people can point and say, “See? If people hadn’t fought back against tyranny (or whatever) that good thing wouldn’t have happened. The bad would have won.“ But it makes me wonder if resistance was really the component which brought about the good result. It makes me wonder if resistance perhaps actually slowed the process down, maybe even injured it a bit. Good things still do happen in spite of our resistant stances. But are we driving with our emergency brake on?

We can imagine that once we choose to do battle with an enemy, that enemy will use its creativity to defend itself. It will design thicker armor, it will design bigger weapons, to which we must respond in kind. That is the basic model and result of resistance.

But what if you first considered the nature of your enemy? What if you decided to love your enemy? That’s not the same thing as agreeing with them, or condoning what they do. It’s a decision to see them as human. A human who is probably just as afraid as you are. Just as curious. Just as desirous of not only surviving but thriving. What if you turned your curiosity toward them? What would they then do with the creativity they would otherwise have used to defend themselves against you? Would they be a little bit more receptive to understanding your point of view? What might be the result of that?

What else might we be able to include in the category of “enemy?“ As I’m writing this, it occurs to me that my enemy could be many things, including an idea I don’t understand, a car engine I don’t personally know how to fix, or even a place I’ve never been to before. What is my attitude toward these? Are they my enemy? Will they do battle with me, or welcome me? Will I be peaceful or angst-ridden as I am deciding how to engage with them?

I do my best to be non-resistant to the fact that I don’t know a thing about my car. My solution? I trust my friend Jimmy the mechanic. We went to high school together. He gives me the freedom to be non-resistant to my car and its problems. He gives me permission to love my car as it is, dents and all. Which is a good thing. Because if one more light comes up on my dashboard, you’ll be able to see it from space.

The $64,000 question is this: How do we become non-resistant to things about which we are truly afraid? I wish I could tell you exactly. But it’s different for all of us. It hinges on the nature of our own personal fears. Each of us have fears which are slightly nuanced by our own experience. The job of marketing data collection tests each of these to see which are the most prevalent among us and then manipulates us by plucking them like strings. Don’t let your fears turn you into someone else’s marionette.

They say the best defense is a good offense. Good offense is smart offense. Well thought out. Taking the time to understand one’s so-called enemy. Get in their head. It’s a power that can go both ways. Use it for good. Get in their head with love and they just might do the same.

Being deliberately non-resistant as a life practice means giving something the opportunity to simply be itself and hose it down with love rather than hate. Hate doesn’t like to be silenced. It always comes out in other ways. Silencing someone’s fear and anguish will only make you less safe from them. Not more.

The problems we see in the world today are largely a result of our having silenced people’s hate rather than listened to it. It’s understandable. Who wants to listen to hate? But we should’ve listened more honestly to their anguish and done our best to soften it rather than silence it. All that accomplished was a temporary sense that the problems had gone away. But we all know they didn’t. They were waiting to be heard. And now they are. But at what cost?

Every problem has a solution to which non-resistance would be an excellent servant. Let it go. Let your fear and hatred go. There are worse things in life than pandemonium. Chaos has an order to it which we are not capable of seeing. You will be okay. The answers will come to you. I promise.

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